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Types of Wine: Pick Your Grape

Written by Jennifer Jordan
Filed Under: Wine Types

I will admit that I'm rather picky. I will only eat certain kinds of food, rarely ingesting dishes entitled with words I can't pronounce or made up of animals I think are cute. And, I will only date certain types of men, limiting myself to those who are good looking, charming, successful, or, at the very least, breathing. But, my pickiness doesn't stop there. Transcending many categories, I tend to be picky when it comes to everything from what kind of clothes I wear to what kind of soap I use. However, oddly enough, when it comes to wine, my pickiness subsides: I've never met a type of wine I didn't like or wouldn't drink.

Despite my willingness to form a loving relationship with any type of wine that seeps into my life, you may not be as much as a booze flooze as myself: some of you may prefer certain types over others. Because of this, it's important to understand the different types of wine that exist: the more aware you are of all the varieties, the more likely you will find a wine you really like.

However, I can't discuss all the types of wine - listing each vintage and flavor and mentioning every grape under the sun. Doing so would take forever and by the time I finished, I, myself, would start to ferment. But, I can provide an overview to help you, the loyal drinker, find something to quench your thirst, a type of wine you'll want to invite over to fill your glass at dinner.

Apéritif: Known as appetizer wines, these are the chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks of the wine world. They are flavored wines typically meant to stimulate the appetite before eating a large meal. They can include sherry, and Madeira.

Barley Wine: Though in possession of the word "wine," Barley Wine isn't really wine, masquerading as such because of a high alcohol content that reaches up to 12 percent by volume. Made from grain instead of fruit, Barley Wine is simply strong beer, like an ale that regularly works out. While it originated in England, Barley Wine is available world wide. However, when sold in the US, Barley Wines are required to be sold with the label, "barely wine-style ales," thus avoiding confusion for the wine-seeking consumer.

Cooking Wines: Wine of extremely poor quality is usually labeled "Cooking Wine," as if being poured into a pan is one step up from being poured down the drain. Typically containing a large amount of salt, Cooking Wine isn't made to be consumed by itself. Instead, it is meant to be used as a way to enhance a dish, bringing out certain flavors and seasonings.

Country Wine: It may seem like Country Wines are wines in possession of a laidback lifestyle and a southern drawl. But, in actuality, they are simply wines that are made from a fruit other than a grape and supplemented with sugar and honey. However, because the word "wine" legally insinuates a drink made from grapes, Country Wines are often fruit-specific in their definitions. They include types such as "plum wine" and "apple wine."

The Vine Continues

Dessert Wines: Known for being served beside a piece of carrot cake or a slice of apple pie, Dessert Wines are wines that range between medium sweet to extremely sweet on the spectrum of sugar. They typically include wines such as Port Wine, Tokay, and Sweet Sherry. Aside from baked goods and fruity creations, dessert wines also go very well with many types of cheese.

Red Wine and White Wine: It may seem like Red Wine and White Wine are always in competition with each other, with bottles of each snapping in unison as the other approaches. But, the truth is that Red Wine and White Wine are so different in flavor, and go best with such different dishes, that the two don't need to compete. While Red Wines are typically good at enhancing meals made of red meat or tomato sauce, White Wines are typically good at enhancing meals made of white meat or white sauces. They are also different in taste because Red Wines are made with grape skins during the fermentation process, causing them to carry "tannin," a sensation you get that makes your tongue feel as though liquid is evaporating off of it. White Wines, however, are made without grape skin and never carry "tannin."

Rose Wine: Rose Wines are also called "Pink Wines" and, because they are often refreshing in mid-summer heat, "Summer Wines." Like a beverage that can't quite make up its mind, Rose Wines aren't really red and aren't really white. Instead, they possess attributes of both true red wines and true white wines. They are often best served with seafood, salad, cold cuts, and pork.

Rice Wine: Just like Barely Wine, Rice Wine is a bit of an imposter, an ale that wishes it was a wine. Made from rice instead of grapes, Rice Wine possesses a higher alcohol content than most beer and wines combined weighing in between 18 and 25 percent. Rice Wine is known as Sake to the Japanese.

Sparkling Wines: Probably the most famous member of the Sparkling Wine family is Champagne, a drink that routinely fills the glasses at wedding receptions and banquet halls. But, Champagne can't hog all the sparkling spotlight, Sparkling Wines can be any type of wine infused with Carbon Dioxide. Because Sparkling Wines do not usually pair well with meals, they are best served alone or with appetizers.

Table Wine: Table Wine is wine that is not fortified and not sparkling, making it erroneously seem like the most plain of wines. By technical definition, Table Wines contain at least 7 percent alcohol and no more than 14 percent. While many people equate Table Wine with poor tasting, cheap wine, many Table Wines aren't cheap, and certainly don't taste like it either.

Whether your favorite type of wine is Red or you, having misplaced your salt lick, actually do like to consume Cooking Wine, wine has a variety of flavors. This makes it one of the most versatile alcohols, possessing the ability to adapt to everything from cocktail hours to State dinners and enabling you, no matter your type or your level of pickiness, to always find something with which to fill your glass.